Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dining and hosting are experiences that I am beginning to cherish here. We often go to each others homes or invite others to our house to eat. These times are full of laughter and stories which make memories. We also thoroughly enjoy the process of preparing meals for each other. We are learning the art of the N. African meal. The photo of the full table is from a meal prepared a few weeks ago. We began with cakes and pastries with tea. Next, we had salad and afterward we served the main dish chili con carne with breads. Last, we shared fresh fruits. The meals here are flavorful and nutritious. The meals are full of foods from the five food groups and the balance is great! We need to take the opportunity to expand our list of new recipes...meaning try to use the pressure cooker...dun dun dun! Ha ha ha The other photos are from a local restaurant that serves French cuisine the presentation of the dishes was so aesthetically appealing that we had to take pictures to attempt replicating some of the food arrangements. Will post that when we have new experiences to share. I now understand a little more of what Hebrews refers to when it says "Don't give up meeting together...spur each other on to love and good deeds..." well who would have thought that food would provide such experiences of togetherness.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A need to Communicate

In the past two weeks I have had experiences that make me very curious about the culture where I live. There seems to be this desperate need for the local people here to communicate with my roommate and I as we walk about the town. The means with which communication is attempted often leaves us scratching our heads, frustrated, or bursting in laughter, but often after all of the initial shock has faded we are often bewildered due to the sporadic timing of these gestures of 'kindness'. Here are a few examples of attempts at communication:

Last week while eating dinner at a corner cafe two boys approached our table selling DVDs, pocket tissues, key chains, etc. we smiled and said no thank you. The boys walked away and return 20 minutes later, the older boy lingered at our table asking us to buy goods from him and as we were telling him we would rather not the little boy walks up behind my chair and pinches the back of my neck and runs across the street as I let out a surprised yelp and the waiter yells at the little boy from inside the restaurant lobby. I rubbed my neck and looked across the street and the little boy smiled a mischievous smile and stood there watching us as we finished eating our food. What was he really trying to say to me? Was he upset that I wouldn't buy from him? Did he want me to chase him? Did he want to play? Did something about my response before the pinch communicate that pinching was appropriate? The others with me just shook their heads and chuckled to themselves.

The other day my roommate and I were walking in the Medina and a small man said "Hello!" We kept walking as he tried to block our way. He then said, "You will not answer me....Why?" Walking after us he then said, " Hey, it is my color..." Then directing his words at me he said,"Wait, YOU are my of my will not answer me....." as we walked away. We often do not speak to men on the street here unless we know them from work or through friends due to our commitment to respect the culture and wisdom, but what was this man wanting? Why did he single me out? Could it be that this man wanted more than just a hello, but a full on conversation? If he wanted a warm greeting, why didn't he approach us in a different manner? What judgments will he make in the future of foreigners who don't speak to him on the streets?

Another man in the Medina greeted us at the large main door saying, "Hello! You are welcome here! Hey Mama Africa.....Jamaica.........Rasta.........Hey Rasta.." as he faded into the crowd behind us....I didn't know why he found it necessary to call out to me. Why does my ethnicity drive him to act in such ways? What response does he want from me? Why didn't he say anything to my roommate who was walking with me?

In the rug shop one of the helpers wanted to know if my roommate and I knew what the word "gazella" meant, and we told him that we did. This was after a few minutes of over hearing a conversation between the shop owner and the helper which was all about how beautiful we were. When the shop owner realized that we understood what he was saying he shhhhhshed the helper and told him "Shhh.....these girls know a little Arabic!" and laughed out loud and proceeded to ask me if I was Muslim. What was his point? Do these men tell every woman who enters the shop that they are beautiful? Do they ask every woman who enters the shop if she's Muslim?

Another young shop owner saw my roommate and I and watched us come down the road and said," Come to my shop and see many things! You will find nice things there." When we said "Not today, Thank you." He continued to gesture and tell us to come in with command in his voice. As we walked away he said "Ok another time..... see you later alligator, after while crocodile! You are welcome.....I like your body!!!!" We walked faster and decided to take a different route home. What did he really want to say to us? Did he think that his comments would really get us to come into his store and buy goods?! Who taught him colloquial phrases? Could he have been more convincing with a different tone or words?

Last Friday, my friends and I were walking to get candy at a corner store and we saw other friends we knew at the corner before our destination so we hugged them and kissed their cheeks excitedly when all of a sudden a group of young boys walked by mocking our words and expressions. As we continued to greet our friends the boys began yelling and laughing and one boy picked up a few small rocks and threw them. One of the rocks hit my hand. As I tried to figure out what happened the boys all turned to look at us with surprised looks on their faces pointing to each other to place the blame on the other boys. What did they want? Did they think that we were too loud? Did they want to talk to us? Did our language sound funny to them?

These mysteries of communication still boggle my mind....we'd like to think that having so many people wanting to interact with us would be a positive thing but sometimes we just don't get it.......

One experience last week made the difference! My roommate and I went into a clothing store in our neighborhood that we walk pass everyday on our way to and from school. We wave at the shop keeper and she always smiles. She often laughs as we gape at the new clothing in the window. We point as we walk by and give thumbs up at the new line or an ensemble that we like and she always smiles. On Friday we went into this shop and she greeted us warmly and made suggestions for us holding up the latest fashions, and since we didn't seem to excited about her choices or the prices of those choices she mentioned that there was a sale to get rid of all of the old collection in the store. So she then showed us clothing with 50 percent reductions of the original prices. We tried on a few items and had a few laughs as she patiently waited for us to make decisions or give pointers about what would look best with our figures etc. When we finally made a decision to buy one item, she was so ecstatic that she just grabbed the two nearest shirts near her from the sale rack and said, "Take for each of you....a gift!" We were so overtaken with her kindness and tried to refuse, but she wouldn't take them back and told us to go with health. We left smiling and she introduced me to a little boy who kept running in and out of the store and we told her that we would have to come back someday and shop again, which she welcomed. We enjoyed her kindness and hospitality...she didn't allow us to stand but made places for us to sit, made conversation with us about fashion and where we were from. This experience was more like what we are accustomed to in terms of communication. Why was this experience such a contrast to the other attempts at communication over the past two weeks? She did not inquire about my ethnicity, I wonder why?

I guess the better question would be: What do I communicate with my words and actions daily? How are they perceived? Are my attempts to communicate misconstrued as well?
More pondering to come...

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Reptile friend on the Kitchen Window, Old Friends at School, New Developments in my Life

More Questions

So I went back home for the summer and had time to reflect on spending 9 months or so and I have decided that I can't help but ask more questions than I did last year. I came with the mind set of being hard and soft like water and I was convinced that I was going to be water upon the rocks of everyday life making an impact for positive change, but what if I wasn't the water at all last year....what if I was the rock in need of the water?! What if this is the case again this year?

I often think that being away from home is an opportunity to see myself and others through a different lens. No masks, no excuses, no sugar coating....being away makes everything REAL! I have had the best conversations over the past few months with friends and family who are ecstatic about taking new risks and trying new things. So much changed over nine months. Will this nine months be similar?

My attention feels divided this year as I focus on being the best teacher that I can be, while balancing contact with friends and family and constantly learning new tidbits or nuggets everyday in a new culture. Recent changes in my life have made me value divided attention and realize that divided attention is inevitable in life and that I like everyone else can learn to enjoy finding the rhythm in this balance.

Other random questions:

What do you do when you are teaching and you look up and see a child eating her markers?
Answer: You praise someone else who is listening and you try to contain yourself from laughing until you get a moment to burst out laughing on your own time.

What do you do when you mistake 1 on the oven for 5?
Answer: You apologize to your roommate and eat the tops of the burnt cookies! ha ha ha ha ha

How do you react when you see a toddler (less than two) crawling up the roof of a vehicle parked in the middle of traffic?
Answer: Thank the heavens that a man came to get the toddler before disaster struck.

Why would a teenage boy walk into a fabric store carrying a flaming napkin?
Answer: beats me!

How can I better appreciate my concierge who shows up at random hours and asks everytime "Were you sleeping?" and then gives us a language lesson that he wrote down in a notebook (French-Arabic), attempts to rearrange the appliances in our kitchen because he doesn't like the set up unannounced, or drags tree branches through the apartment 4 days in a row from a tree that fell a month ago?
Answer: We smile, nod, and say thank you (oh and we tip him too!)

What do you do with a three foot piece of tree that juts out of the patio wall?
Answer: Decorate it for the holidays! (Pictures to come soon!)LOL

How can I be prepared to respond to people on the street who ask for money at almost every corner?
Answer: Give when I have and be faithful in giving.

How can I make the most of the next nine months?
Answer: ...still figuring this one out, but pretty sure I am already..well most days....

New Recipes Cooked Successfully:
1. Chili Con Carne II
2. Crepes (with nutella and bananas)
3. Stir Fry with Eggplant/Green beans
4. Spanish Rice
5. Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (boyfriend cookies)
Check out this website below to know the story behind the cookies ha ha ha

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Settling in for year two in N. Africa....

It has been nice to be back but there have been some unexpected new adjustments. I moved into a new apartment, which I like, but I am still figuring out a few items of business.

1. Where do you put your trash?
Answer: At 9pm put it outside your door and it disappears (seriously the concierge picks it up and takes it to the dumpster).

2. What to do when your shower is cold?
Answer: This question is still unsolved, but the 100 degree temperature makes the showers more bearable.

3. What to do when a tree falls down into your patio?
Answer: The concierge will move it after Ramadan which will be another week.

4. What to do when you find a little furry friend in your kitchen?
Answer: Scream and yell until it climbs out the window!

5. Where do you go when everything is closed during Ramadan?
Answer: Your own kitchen or Mc Donald's

6. How many times can you almost get hit by a bus?
Answer: Apparently three times if we count today! Crossing the streets is not as difficult in the states!

7. Who is in charge of traffic when there is an accident?
Answer: No one! Everyone just yells and honks!

8. What is the best little snack to accompany meals?
Answer: CRAX ( a light floury treat with seasoning that tastes like a bullion cube)

9. How many F'tours can you go to in a week?
Answer: Three! We went to share the breaking of the fast with three families who fed us well. The tables were covered with delicious harrira, pizza, Malawi, and sweets.

10. How many times can you be welcomed in one day?
Answer: Still working on that one, it happens countless times on the streets. Most of the time it puts us at ease, but other times we just have to wonder what the motive behind the kind gesture might mean.

11. What do you do when taxi driver with an empty taxi tells you no when you ask him to take you somewhere?
Answer: Just stand there looking helpless or grumpy until he wheels back and waves his hand at you to get in!

Despite these many questions I am extremely excited about this upcoming school year! The new teachers are enthusiastic and we feel such a sense of unity, despite the short time we have been together. It has been fun showing them around and teaching them the ropes at the school. It is nice to be a veteran now (well kind of)!...more to come...

Friday, July 16, 2010


So I have been back in the states for almost a month and am realizing just how LOVED I am by my family and friends! It's not that I didn't know that I was LOVED but every conversation seems so fresh, new, rich and time is flying by so fast that I just keep looking up and it's 11:00pm again. I have been able to take time to enjoy the things I missed over the year in random order:

1. ICEE s -( You know the one with the Polar Bear on it) oh and lemonade
2. Ham/ Bacon
3. Riding a bike
4. Running at any hour of the day I choose :)
5. Good Pizza
6. Chicago
7. Standing in a line without being yelled at or cut in front of...
8. AC- but sometimes it's just cranked up too high and I am freezing
10. BBQ
11. Wearing shorts
12. crossing streets and not fearing for my life
13. naps
14. Humidity- ha ha never thought I'd say that
15. getting errands accomplished quickly
16. dancing in public- oh yeah watch out now?!
17. English- a break from constantly trying to say things correctly in another language
18. Public parks to read in /walk through/ picnic in
19. Public Libraries!
20. Lake Michigan- BEACH!
21. My guitar
22. Mr. Hatchett- pet frog R.I.P (died right before I returned)
and the list goes on. I have had a chance to reconnect so easily with family, hold my new nephew, ride in new vehicles, play and sing music, and most importantly play music with the people dearest to me. I have also been able to meet up with friends that had a year full of interesting challenges, triumphs, etc. The entire time that I am able to spend time with those who know me best I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy at the fact that these people have always been there and will most likely be there when I return from just about anywhere. They are there to embrace me and hear the stories that I don't get to always share about the experience. They are there to teach me about the things that have changed or things that I have missed. They are there to help me reflect and prepare for another year overseas. They are there to remind me of who I am and why I do the things I do each day. They are there to question the aspects of my life that have recently changed. They are there to pray with me for guidance. They are there to make me laugh until I cry. I am so blessed to be a part of so many wonderful peoples lives. I just hope that I am and will be just as good a friend to them as they have been to me. My mom would always say, " A friend LOVES at all times." and this is true of so many. I thank God and all of those closest to my heart!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rude Awakening

When I first arrived here we were often awaken by a rooster at about 4:30am without fail until the rooster was most likely used for someones dinner. Months of mornings without the rooster's charming calls has been wonderful, however, about a month ago we have acquired new friends. Yes, there are pigeons who are about the size of chickens who fly into the rod iron caging around my window to make the most bizarre noises I have ever heard. The crazy part is that the pigeons don't come everyday just at those times when I need sleep the seems. My roommates and I have grown accustomed to shaking the window or banging on the window in order to get the pigeons to leave, but they often forget how to get out of the rod iron structure and take several attempts to get out. One of my roommates just told me that there are usually two pigeons in her window in the morning and one day she looked out after they had flown away and there was a large pile of q-tips on her window seal. We figured that they were going to build a nest. My roommate, after receiving counsel (LOL), decided to brush the q-tips off of the ledge quickly to avoid being awaken by little pigeons. I keep trying to imagine the shock on the pigeons faces when they returned to see pieces of their barely constructed house scattered all over the ground below. She still gets serenaded in the mornings and sometimes it's so loud that it wakes me up as well. Maybe it's their revenge. I never even knew that pigeons sang! Ha ha ha I will try to record the pigeon wake up call and post it, so you can hear too! :)

New Recipes

Upon arriving here cooking has become a new hobby. A year ago I just ate the same things because they were fast and easy, but healthy. Now I cook most nights out of the week and I find joy in creating new dishes and a new confidence. No more bland food for me.....

I will list the foods that I have made:
1. Chili with beans and ground turkey
2. Tacos
3. Homemade pizzas
4. Chicken Salad
5. Vegetable Stir fry/ Turkey stir fry
6. Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies
7. Strawberry Tarts
8. Chocolate Cakes Thanks Betty Crocker!(hand whipped frosting)
9. Pastas with Green olive tomato sauce
10. Turkey burgers with mushrooms, onion, garlic,and mozzarella cheese
11. Beef Tagine with eggs and fries
12. Biscuits and gravy (thanks to Bisquick)
13. French Toast
14. Omelets
15. Praline Cookies
16. Baked potatoes with cheese, onions, green pepper(couldn't find broccoli or bacon)
17. Taco Salad
18. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
19. S'mores (I don't know if that counts, but they are very good!)
20. Trail mix (LOL, don't think that counts either...)
21. homemade french fries
22. Pasta with garlic sauce
23. Fajitas
24. Panini's (Hot sandwiches)
25. Fruit Salad
26. Cous cous (just the grains)
27. Buffalo Sauce for Chicken
28. Pasta with spinach and veggies
29. Oatmeal with toast
30. Snicker doodle cookies
31. Sliced oranges with cinammon and chocolate chips

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top 12 for settling in.......
67. Found shoes my size! Ha ha ha That one salesman didn't know that in the new town there were shoes of all sizes! Still working on a picture to post.

68. Walking down the street on a rainy day with friends and heard noises above our head. We looked up to find little feet and laughing children making monkey noises. We went from being startled to laughing hysterically. I guess this is normal when it rains.

69. Move over donkeys, now I am trying my best to avoid on coming traffic here. There are traffic lights, stop signs etc but some drivers here take liberty in driving however, whenever, and wherever they want. I will have to keep using my cat like reflexes to keep from being like the loser in a game of Frogger! LOL

70. Our neighborhood shopkeepers now make jokes with us and one of them spoke English a few weeks ago for the first time. My friends and I looked at each other and said, "Do you mean to tell me that you could speak English this entire time?!" He then laughed and said," No. No. I only know what I just said. There is no more."
Our excitement turned sour after only a split second.

71. When visiting families in town for dinner if we pause too long between bites we are practically yelled at to EAT! EAT MORE! In August we would react by eating until we felt we could barely move, but after being here for a while we know that 'slow and steady wins the race' ha ha ha don't know if that statement really matches but if you keep motioning as if you are eating even though you're not you can avoid the constant EAT! EAT MORE!

72. I now where just about whatever funny outfit I can when I am not wearing my spiffy work uniform (Photos coming soon). So five days out of the week I get to try out wardrobe combinations that I would have never really tried in the states. Wearing yellow on rainy days is still a tradition that has survived.

73. When you help your neighbors with groceries they bring dates and bread to your apartment.

74. Sometimes people do random acts of kindness that make being here a little easier.

75. When running past an old man he said,"To your health!" in Arabic. I would have replied but wasn't awake enough to do so. LOL

76. Finds sitting on the roof to be quite enjoyable.

77. People don't move over when you are walking down the sidewalk. People don't move over for you in line at the grocery store, fruit stand, bus stop. You just have to make your own way here.

78. Errands take a lot longer here...last week I went to get a internet USB repaired and spent about an hour and a half walking from one store to another, while the shopkeeper at the first store says, "What are you eating?" I had a piece of pastry in my hand from the bakery. I offered him some but he smiled and refused. "You are not understanding me. I told you this the week before....go to another store." When I said I did not know where the other store was and could he explain it, he said,( in a joking manner ringing his hands),"I want to kill you! Ha ha ha! You keep coming here and I cannot fix this for you. There is no guarantee." I insisted that he help me because I bought the USB there, and I didn't fully understand. So he laughs again and sends his apprentice with me to go to the 'other' store. I go and the apprentice gets right down to business with another shopkeeper for forty five minutes. I looked at other products and I even did a short moonwalk on a dare from my friend who was there. The marble floor was so smooth and it was totally worth it! Ha ha ha...After waiting for another 20 minutes I walked with the apprentice back to the first shopkeeper who puffed out his chest as I showered him with words of gratitude and 'You were right the whole time!' and then he turned to his apprentice who smiled and he said, 'That is why I said I want to kill you! ha ha ha!' I laughed nervously and said thanks again and was on my way home with a working USB.

79.Small tasks can become complicated...who would have ever thought that printing from a computer, finding standard sized envelopes, changing a lightbulb, buying a fan, checking out the public park, booking a hotel room, doing laundry, etc would
take multiple people, money, and most of all time.....I hope that I can say that I am more patient having lived here.

80. No crepes before 3pm. On Easter, we went to brunch and ordered crepes, but we were told by the waiter that there were no crepes. Sometimes I go to get a waffle or a crepe from a vendor on the main street, so I thought I will go there. When I approached the booth where they are made the vendor shook his head and said, " It's too early! Can you come back at 3pm? We will make crepes at 3pm?!!" I didn't go back that was an Easter with no crepes.

81. My students love Tektonic dancing! I have never heard of this type of dancing but apparently it's very popular here. It's hilarious to watch them dance with no inhibitions. The best part is the serious expressions on their faces. Maybe I can learn a few moves to show people back home!

82. After having dinner with friends last weekend, I almost forgetting that I was not in the states, but was quickly reminded as I was walking home. Behind every corner was some man lurking and yelling at me in any language they thought that I could understand. Decided that I would take a taxi if I was ever out after 9pm again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shopping is a Process

I am on spring break and have been enjoying sleeping in, reading, falling asleep reading in the middle of the day, checking FB, working on an update, learning how to bargain with salesmen with my roommate
(which buying items here is another story, it's not easy.... you walk in and you see something you like and the salesman walks up and asks you how you are doing about four times and then he tells you they will give you a good you ask the salesman how much the item costs and the price is really high, so we then have to say I can't pay that much for this item and then they begin to ask us a series of questions "Where are you from? How long have you been here?" which means they are trying to size us up and see if we really can pay the quoted price. We then say we will think about it and come back, and they say "name your price" and after a while of offering a lower price and bargaining while casually mentioning that we aren't tourists but live in this town and want to support the local economy, there's a long pause, a little silence and a few blank stares, then the salesman will either say "ok" take the item and put it in a bag or he will give you a story about the quality of the product and how he's really giving you a deal by offering a discount at all...... the salesmen can very moody sometimes, but most times we are able to make a joke and laugh with them by using our developing Arabic skills and seal the makes me miss the Western just walk in get what you need and go on to finish whatever else you have on your agenda for the day.....but in a way there's something special about having to have conversations at length about a purchase (unless of course the salesman is trying to hit on you or your roommate)....everything here is about relationships.

Everything takes time and a conversation (sometimes cordial and sometimes combative) but all in all it's an experience and a moment to understand a little bit more about what makes living here so special. You can' t walk away from a business transaction without knowing more about the other persons life and 'story' that you are interacting with and each time you stop to get fruit or buy a sweater the exchange begins again. Every person has a unique 'story' that explains who they are, who they belong to/with, how they make a living, what they believe, how they see themselves,etc and I find seeing a glimpse of this 'story' quite intriguing. I really believe that if we take long enough to hear the 'story' of others lives we might just learn how to show them a little more consideration and love, knowing that we too have a 'story'. I hope that I can begin telling some of these stories as soon as I manage to slow down amidst the hectic schedules and meetings to make time in order to have enough pieces of a story to share. Maybe I can start by writing my own 'story'. Ah ha.....Now I have a new task for spring break.....never thought shopping would make me reflect so deeply.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

First Grader Conquers Mt. Locker

So today I sent a student out of the classroom to 'reset' himself and after about two or three minutes I heard a small rumble and when I went to see what was happening I found him sitting on the top of the lockers touching the ceiling. I immediately said,"What are you doing up there? and How did you manage to get up there in the first place?" I had to laugh out loud. He looked surprised that I would ask such questions and told me that he knew that I sent him to stand in the hallway but thought he would get the papers that were on top of the lockers for me while he was up there. I just stood in awe and told another student to get the principal. While my other student was going to get the principal the student asked me if he could get down, but looked a little nervous about his journey down, so I told him to stay there until the principal came so that she could see exactly why I was asking her to come to the classroom. He squirmed around a bit trying to find a way to get down from the top of the lockers, while the principal walked in and gasped! She proceeded to ask the same questions that I asked him in a rather loud tone. After the scolding she tried to help him down and was he was too afraid to get down so she had to climb onto a chair to help him down. She called his parents and he was sent home. For the life of me I cannot figure out how he was able to get on top of the lockers without seriously hurting himself. I can laugh about it now but I can say in all my years of teaching I have never had a student do anything like this. This among other events made today very interesting to say the least!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Note to a friend (extending to all of my dear friends) for the New Year:

Thank you for your New Year's Wishes! It's been tough being away from my family for the holidays, but God always goes before us and has provided a few new friends here, who remind me of you and your family, because they have had me over to their house several times over the long Winter break for dinner, games, and movies. I learned how to play Dutch Blitz a new game that I really enjoy but never win! I highly recommend this game for the winter! I have been taking time to read from Jeremiah and Colossians and realized that I need to pray more often for my students and the teachers I arrived with. It is so easy to complain or see the difficulty or negative sides of things especially when dealing with the stress of language/communication and adjustment to a new culture. Instead of complaining I am trying to pray when the notion arises or speak words that are edifying (words that will speak to the truth in the situations and remind others of the love grace and forgiveness that is needed to continue living peaceably). It's working so far. I've really missed my students over the winter vacation which is funny to say but I think since I am here in my apartment by myself for the last couple of weeks that I have occupied my thoughts with questions about who they are and how I can help them to learn the most they can this year. I wonder what these students will be like when they are 21 or 30 and it makes me happy to know that they will hold on to the ideas of community and responsibility that will allow them to contribute to society for the greater good of all where they choose to live their lives! I wonder if I am to be a part of this development for next year or if I am to return to the states. I have to make a decision in February but until then I am praying I am still trying to find my niche in the new curriculum and have to get geared up for a new semester.

I have been taking short and long walks in the gorgeous weather. The rains and cool weather are on their way, but now the temps are in the 60s and 70s and I have loved just walking down the streets with sunglasses and a light jacket feeling the sun on my face! I love sunshine and find it difficult to think that when I return to Illinois this time of year there would be snow and ice. I like snow don't get me wrong, it's just tough cleaning off the car and shoveling etc... I do miss snowball fights and haven't had a chance to make my annual snow angel :( I hope to go to Ifrane later in the month with my snow pants, leg warmers and big boots etc to play in snow!

I have tried a new recipe for cinnamon rolls and am perfecting homemade french fries....... I know it's not the healthiest choices but this reminds me of home or America shall I say. I have also found a new love of writing post cards! I am now trying to find ones that I think my friends will get a kick out of, but sometimes I forget who was supposed to get which one! LOL I am sure that people will love the notes anyway!

I have been cat sitting for another teacher who is in the states for the past couple of weeks and have solidified my decision about owning pets larger than Mr. Hatchett (my African clawed aquatic frog). It's interesting because I have never seen cats as very interactive creatures, they mainly keep to themselves, but these two cats names 'Hot lips' and 'Baby' are simply hilarious. They are about a little over a foot long and about 5 and a half inches wide....BIG cats! When I come to feed them they start making noises that remind me of words like 'hello' hey but they probably just mean something like 'where have you been?! We are so hungry! Hurry up and feed us already! Oh and while you're at it can you change our litter box and pick up the Christmas tree we knocked over the other day? Yeah and about that old bag of cat was left open on the floor so we just finished it off yesterday...just wanted you to know." Ha ha ha! So I just carry on conversation as if they are listening, but the way they stare at me sometimes makes me think that they understand me! LOL

I have ridden in many taxis going to friends houses lately and have found that all taxi drivers want to know the answers to 3 to15) important questions:

1. Where do you want to go?
2. Can you tell me when to turn if I show signs of not knowing where I am taking you although my initial nods and hand waving made it seem like I knew exactly where to take you?
3. Where are you from?
3a. Do you speak Arabic? French? English?
3b. Are you a student?
4. How long are you staying here?
5.What do you think about the city/country? "How do you find the city?"
6. Are you Muslim?
7. Do you live here with your family or alone?
8. Why aren't you Muslim?
9. Why did you come here when you could choose to go anywhere?
10. Where have you traveled in the country?
11. What do you know about Mohammed?
12.Where do you live in the old city or new city?
13. You are beautiful, yes?!
14. Do you like the food of our country?
15. Will you be Muslim, incha 'allah?! (God willing)

And after a plethora of questioning with answers to suffice the curiosity of the taxi driver they say "Marhabah!" Welcome! "Enjoy your stay! This is the best city in the country! Go all over and you will see that this city is the heart of the country! B'slaama! Good bye! and someone else who needs a taxi is yelling at the driver their intended destination before I get a chance to pay him the fair and the new passenger proceeds to shove me out of the way in order to get in. I readjust myself and go about my way, laughing about the event of transportation that is totally different each time and highly unpredictable! My friend who has lived here for over 15 years said, "Not just the taxi drivers, all of the people here want to know who you are, what kind of a family you come from, and WHY you are here! That's the way people are here...and once they know this they will either leave you alone or they will invite you over to eat! The people love to help you and othersif they know that you are a good person (which means if you show that you respect their culture by the way you live your life here) because that's what people do...they are really inquisitive and they want to feed you and make you feel welcome here!"

I look forward to starting a new quarter of the school year with my students! I am also thinking of budgeting to take language courses once a week in order to improve my Arabic (Darija) and/or French! I feel so alive and aware of so many things but often wonder what this means nevertheless I am enjoying living here and although I miss being in Illinois and seeing my family I know that I am here 'for such a time as this'. Some moments and conversations that I have had have assured me that my life will never be the same because HE is moving and changing me so deeply. In moments of weariness I pray or read the special notes that were written a little journal and then I am overwhelmed again at the love of my dear friends and family. When I am frustrated or exhausted I am often flooded with the presence of HIS love and comfort in the friendship and support of YOU! Thank you Thank you Thank you for refreshing my spirit! Your cards, packages, emails, and notes have inspired me to love people here all the more. Your love for me and prayers are being answered each day in small glimpses and in ways that we will never know, but of course HE knows and will continue the work that HE has begun in YOU where YOU are, in ME where I am and in US! Praise Honor and Glory Be to our God...all wealth, wisdom, power, strength and everything belongs to him and finds its purpose in HIM alone. Blessings, smiles, and salaam to YOU in this new year!

It brings me peace to know these words:
"Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart for a special work."
"YOU must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say. Don't be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you."
"See I am putting my words in your will pull up and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build up and plant."Jeremiah 1:5a,7b, 8,9 & 10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Drummers of the World UNITE!

J I thought you would like this video. I went to a wedding and this is the music played at the wedding processional!

Missing My Bro...(one of my favorite drummers in the whole wide world)

The new year is here and nothing battles homesickness better than contact with family and friends! It's been great getting to chat and skype with so many over the past few weeks. I am grateful for technology (i.e. this blog, FB, and myspace, etc). I am really missing my brother and so I decided to look up his 'rockin' band (Electric Kool-aid)on YouTube and this made me happy! J,if you are reading this today, just want you to know that your bands music makes me smile! Can't wait to hear you guys play again upon my return to the states.

I know...I know... I am very far away, but every time I walk down the street and some random Berber drummer comes up to me playing his drum for money I always think about you and how much you love what you do and how you would immensely enjoy a jam session with him! I am sure that you would love N. Africa due to the spontaneous artistic creativity that seems to permeate the air! Sometimes early in the morning I am awaken by drums like the ones in the video below. Enjoy! ( oh and you can dance if you want to...) ha ha ha